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Is it worth contesting a SORN fine?

My car was SORN'd in September 2015. It became eligible for Historic Vehicle Status in April 2016. I assumed DVSA would automatically update details and therefore no need for me to contact them prior to driving car on the road. In June 2017 I was issued with a fixed penalty of £504 for having the car on a public road with SORN in force. I accept that I am at fault as I now find out that I should have notified them of the change of taxation class, but the fine seems disproportionate as I have not evaded any tax. In any case should they not have issued a fixed penalty of £80 at the end of the SORN period for not renewing? Is it worth my while to contest this in court?

Asked on 3 July 2017 by nige o r

Answered by Keith Moody
The official line from DVSA is this: 'You can only drive a vehicle with a SORN on a public road to go to or from a pre-booked MOT or other testing appointment. You face court prosecution and a fine of up to £2500 if you use it on the road for any other reason.' You say that you haven't evaded any tax, but technically you have. You didn't apply to DVSA for a change of taxation class (to 'Historic'), which means you weren't eligible for free VED at the time. You have therefore failed to pay for the VED that was due. Anybody whose car is old enough to be classed as 'Historic' needs to ensure that the taxation class is changed. Until this is done, your car isn't 'tax-free'. In an ideal world this would happen automatically - but nothing is ideal when it comes to the DVSA. The onus is on the registered keeper of the vehicle to apply for 'Historic' taxation. It's also worth remembering that SORN no longer needs to be renewed annually, and now remains in place until you next tax your car.
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